COLORADO, USA — It wasn't until college that Isabella Hageman had a teacher she could relate to.
"When I first heard there was a Black teacher in our elementary school here, I was like wow, really that's so cool," said the 19-year-old Colorado College freshman.
Hageman grew up in South Dakota and said the first Black teacher she's ever had was during her freshman year in college.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, less than 2% of teachers across the state were Black or African American for the 2019-2020 school year.
Hageman believes representation in the classroom can go a long way.
"When students have teachers of color that they can connect with because they might come from the same backgrounds or they’re into the same things or they just have similar cultures, the students typically do better," said Hageman.
Now, Hageman is on a path to help change those statistics. She's one of the first to apply for a new teacher development grant program from Sach's Foundation – a program aimed at recruiting and retaining Black and African American educators for the state. The $575,000 grant provides internship stipends and a $20,000 supplement to salaries for Black students pursuing a career in education.
9NEWS: How much will students who participate in the program make after graduating?
Ben Ralston: "What we are doing is supplementing their salary for the first three years that they are teaching through a stipend which is a $10,000 stipend. We’re also recruiting them to be mentors in our elevator program which is a paid mentorship program which will fund them around another $10,000."
When can students start applying?
Ben Ralston: "So, it starts in their undergraduate with things like fellowships, internships, summer teaching opportunities to help those students get into the classroom and get that experience. If they would like to continue, the program will fund their full master’s degree if they’d like to get a masters in teaching or education."
Do students have to be education majors to apply?
Ben Ralston: "No in fact, one of the things we’re hoping for is to identify students who may have declared a major outside of education, but would still consider going into education."
Is the program only available to students at Colorado College?
Ben Ralston: "So, we’re starting the program with Colorado College, but our intention is to expand it to other universities across Colorado and we are starting with those conversations now. If there are students at a college or university who would like to be a part of this program, but we are not yet at their school, check back again because it's something that we’re looking at growing."
Where can students find the application once it's available at their college or university?
Ben Ralston: "The application process is through the institution so getting in touch with the education department."
Are there any other programs students can apply for to help pay for college?
Ben Ralston: "The scholarship applications for high school seniors looking to attend college starting in the fall are now open and can be found on our website, sachsfoundation.org. To qualify, students have to identify as Black, be residents of Colorado for the last three years, and be planning to start college in the fall. We evaluate students on a combination of academics, service, leadership and need. Scholarship awards this year will be $10,000 per year for four years, so a $40,000 total scholarship."
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